Friday, June 27, 2008

The benefit of good Supreme Court justices

If you have any doubt about how important it is to have good Supreme Court justices then look no further than this weeks ruling on the gun laws. The Supreme court upheld the correct interpretation of the second amendment. The right to bear arms was upheld. With a more liberal Supreme Court this would not have happened. In case you are still wondering how you are going to vote this Nov, remember who will appoint the best conservative justices in the years ahead.

See article here.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Addressing the message, not killing the messenger...

In browsing the latest entries on some Protestant apologetics sites, it seems that the focus of late has been individual attacks versus addressing arguments. For example. Visit Dr. James Whites website at his Alpha and Omega blog. Lets take a look at some of his most recent posts. One of them may be by another poster other than James himself, but none the less it is his blog. So lets look closer. In the last month White has managed to attack not 1, not 2 not 3, but 5 different catholic apologists personally. The persons of Ben Douglas, Mark Shea, Steve Ray, Art Sippo, and Patrick Madrid all received some sort of blog-lashing. Dr. White arrogantly told Ben Douglas and the whole blogo-sphere if you will, that Ray could never stand in a debate with him. He mocked Patrick Madrid in a cartoon depicting him as an idolater.

I ask Dr. White that he start addressing arguments the instead of these people personally. I also would hope that my fellow Catholic apologists that have also resorted to this would stop as well. I have witnessed Dr. Sippo throw some pretty harrowing attacks in his posts on blogs and apologetics chat-rooms. I personally know how easy it is to get carried away in the heat of debate, since all of these people, including Dr. White are passionate about what they believe. I am as well, and have also on occasion crept over into the art of personal insult. I have tried of late to keep focused on the arguments, and tried to state clearly and without added pepper when I have considered someone to be quoting Catholic teaching incorrectly.

I have said in an earlier post that I do not wish to make an enemy of Mr. White, and this still stands. I have addressed him in a few of my posts. A couple concerning his Martin Luther videos, which I thought were way off base, and another on relics. Recently I addressed Dr. White on one of his videos on Transubstantiation and the history of the Liturgy. Now over 200 people have viewed the videos, yet Dr. White continues not to address it. In the 3 part video I demonstrated where his historical arguments against the Eucharist, Transubstantiation, the elevation of the host and the tabernacle were completely false. I have yet to see him address these. Yet he has plenty of time to go on his blog and attack Mark Shea, Ben Douglas, Steve Ray, Patrick Madrid and so on, yet we see nothing on a real argument presented to him, viewed by now hundreds of people. Whether we are right or wrong, we must be willing to address these issues. I have no problem admitting when I have made a mistake. It seems to me by Dr. White's attitude, that an apologist who makes a mistake can never ever again be taken seriously. If am wrong in stating this, and i am misreading him, then I will gladly be open for correction. In a post on Beggars All blog 4 or 5 weeks ago, I had to recant on a quote that I misused and that I posted in error. I of course was completely crucified for it, but that comes with territory I guess.

The spirit of apologetics will always have a heated side to it, for it involves the core of our beliefs in God, and our eternal existence. It involves how we live, and how we treat others in this world. I believe we are called to be Christians first, and how we conduct apologetics should always be within that Christian framework. Cartoons mocking people, writing diatribes about others is not in my opinion at the core of Christianity. I am not referring to just Dr. White here either. The internet is full of this, from both Protestants and Catholics, who of all people should know better. In the future I hope that we can all take a step back and focus on the issues and arguments at hand, with a true objective outlook for the truth. I know that just by engaging in these online debates and personal debates, I always manage to learn something new. If am not learning something about my opponent's beliefs, then I usually learn more about my own Catholic faith.

Yours in Christ, Matthew James Bellisario

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Pope talks about Saint Maximus the Confessor

A great article today on the Pope's address on Saint Maximus the Confessor.How great it is to see him digging yet again into the Eastern Fathers.

View the article and audio here.

There is great information on the Saint here.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Luther, Luther, Luther.....

I've been reading all of these blog entries on Luther over at Beggars All with amazement. Its actually quite amusing. All this time spent on defending a man and his doctrines and character, and the Catholics defending Christ and the Church. Do we see a stark contrast between the focus in apologetics? One is self centered the other Christ centered. Luther makes himself the authority, whereby we take Christ and His Church as the authority. Luther says this himself where he says in arguing about Saint Paul and the meaning of his words, "If your Papist makes much useless fuss about the sola allein, tell me at once: Dr. Martin Luther will have it so,' and says, 'Papist and donkey are one thing....For we do not want to be pupils and followers of the Papist, but their masters and judges."
(Phillip Schaff, Hisotry of the Christian Church p 362.)

What also amuses me is the consistent use of the New Catholic Encyclopedia for use in apologetics. I wonder if anyone knows that it is not a Church document? We already see what a big mistake James White made with it in one of his videos on Transubstantiation
where I had to correct him on several issues because he took an entry from it without investigating anything in more detail. Get some real reference works for a change. At what lengths will one go to defend Luther is absolutely amazing.

Did Luther's view soften as has been stated on the blog towards his later years? Another fallacy. In 1542 only 4 years before his death he wrote, "We should throw the epistle of James out of this school, for it doesn't amount to much. It contains not a syllable about Christ, except at the beginning. I maintain that some Jew wrote it who probably heard about Christian people but never encountered any. Since he heard that Christians place great weight on faith in Christ, he thought, "Wait a moment! I'll oppose them and urge works alone.'"

So much for changing his views later in life.

The fact of the matter is that Luther did not challenge the use of James on the platform of historicity at all. He never used its use in the Liturgy throughout the ages to affirm or deny its use in the Church as Sacred Scripture. This is all nonsense. Luther denied it for one reason alone. It was because he could not tolerate God's Word contradicting his man-made doctrines, in which he could not reconcile. Do we really need to do a quick dig on the book of James to prove my point? We know that the book of James was widely held as Sacred Scripture centuries before Luther. It is listed in the Council in Carthage in 397, Gregory of Nazianus included it in the 4th century, The Canon in Laodicea in 363 included it, Cyril of Jersusalem included it, and the list goes on.

Another interesting point to note is that we can see how bankrupt Luther's theology was. In the above quote we see him saying that nothing is said about Christ in the book of James, or nothing is referenced to him, and that a "Jew who knew nothing of Christianity who wrote it. As the late scholar Bruce Metzger points out, "Of all the books in the New Testament other than the four Gospels, this one has the greatest number of parallels to the words of Jesus, particularly to his teaching on the Sermon on the Mount(Matt.5-7)." He continues, but you get my point. Luther was no theologian, far from it. Anyone who had the pompous arrogance to not only challenge Sacred Scripture in the way that he did, but outright reject them cannot be considered rational. In fact most would consider his words blasphemy.

I wanted to sum this is with some of my favorite Luther quotes. You can't cover up the the blasphemous comments on this guy.

How about this one, where he tells us that Sacred Scripture is wrong....

"Therfore James concludes falsely that now at last Abraham was justified after that obedience; for faith and righteousness are known by works as by the fruits."

Or this one..It seems that he knows more than God...

"Therfore the St James epistle is rally an epistle of straw, compared to these others, for it has nothing of the nature of the gospel about it." LW35,362

And then my favorite where he adds to God's Holy Writ, boasting about his credentials.....what nonsense.

"Are they doctors? so am I. Are they learned? so am I. Are they preachers? so am I. Are they theologians? so am I. Are they disputators? so am I. Are they philosophers? so am I. Are they the writers of books? so am I. And I shall further boast: I can expound Psalms and Prophets; which they can not. I can translate; which they can not .... Therefore the word allein shall remain in my New Testament, and though all pope-donkeys (Papstesel) should get furious and foolish, they shall not turn it out."
(Schaff p 63)

You can sugarcoat this guy all you want, but the fact of the matter is he was a very troubled man over this issue.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Church, the Hammer of Heretics.....

I thought it would be fun to look at some of the statements the Church has made regarding heresy over the years. I have included excerpts from some of my favorite documents and declarations of the Church. We could all use a wakeup call from these ancient writings to give an idea of how serious it is that the true Gospel be preached and defended against those who deny the true faith. There are millions of souls at stake.

A. Introduction to EXSURGE DOMINE
Condemning The Errors Of Martin Luther
Pope Leo X
Bull issued June 15, 1520

Arise, O Lord, and judge your own cause. Remember your reproaches to those who are filled with foolishness all through the day. Listen to our prayers, for foxes have arisen seeking to destroy the vineyard whose winepress you alone have trod. When you were about to ascend to your Father, you committed the care, rule, and administration of the vineyard, an image of the triumphant church, to Peter, as the head and your vicar and his successors. The wild boar from the forest seeks to destroy it and every wild beast feeds upon it.

Rise, Peter, and fulfill this pastoral office divinely entrusted to you as mentioned above.

Give heed to the cause of the holy Roman Church, mother of all churches and teacher of the faith, whom you by the order of God, have consecrated by your blood. Against the Roman Church, you warned, lying teachers are rising, introducing ruinous sects, and drawing upon themselves speedy doom. Their tongues are fire, a restless evil, full of deadly poison. They have bitter zeal, contention in their hearts, and boast and lie against the truth.

B. Regnans in Excelsis

Excommunicating Elizabeth I of England
Pope St Pius V - 27 April 1570

Pius Bishop, servant of the servants of God, in lasting memory of the matter.

He that reigneth on high, to whom is given all power in heaven and earth, has committed one holy Catholic and apostolic Church, outside of which there is no salvation, to one alone upon earth, namely to Peter, the first of the apostles, and to Peter's successor, the pope of Rome, to be by him governed in fullness of power. Him alone He has made ruler over all peoples and kingdoms, to pull up, destroy, scatter, disperse, plant and build, so that he may preserve His faithful people (knit together with the girdle of charity) in the unity of the Spirit and present them safe and spotless to their Saviour.

1. In obedience to which duty, we (who by God's goodness are called to the aforesaid government of the Church) spare no pains and labour with all our might that unity and the Catholic religion (which their Author, for the trial of His children's faith and our correction, has suffered to be afflicted with such great troubles) may be preserved entire. But the number of the ungodly has so much grown in power that there is no place left in the world which they have not tried to corrupt with their most wicked doctrines; and among others, Elizabeth, the pretended queen of England and the servant of crime, has assisted in this, with whom as in a sanctuary the most pernicious of all have found refuge. This very woman, having seized the crown and monstrously usurped the place of supreme head of the Church in all England to gether with the chief authority and jurisdiction belonging to it, has once again reduced this same kingdom- which had already been restored to the Catholic faith and to good fruits- to a miserable ruin.

2. Prohibiting with a strong hand the use of the true religion, which after its earlier overthrow by Henry VIII (a deserter therefrom) Mary, the lawful queen of famous memory, had with the help of this See restored, she has followed and embraced the errors of the heretics. She has removed the royal Council, composed of the nobility of England, and has filled it with obscure men, being heretics; oppressed the followers of the Catholic faith; instituted false preachers and ministers of impiety; abolished the sacrifice of the mass, prayers, fasts, choice of meats, celibacy, and Catholic ceremonies; and has ordered that books of manifestly heretical content be propounded to the whole realm and that impious rites and institutions after the rule of Calvin, entertained and observed by herself, be also observed by her subjects. She has dared to eject bishops, rectors of churches and other Catholic priests from their churches and benefices, to bestow these and other things ecclesiastical upon heretics, and to determine spiritual causes; has forbidden the prelates, clergy and people to acknowledge the Church of Rome or obey its precepts and canonical sanctions; has forced most of them to come to terms with her wicked laws, to abjure the authority and obedience of the pope of Rome, and to accept her, on oath, as their only lady in matters temporal and spiritual; has imposed penalties and punishments on those who would not agree to this and has exacted then of those who perserved in the unity of the faith and the aforesaid obedience; has thrown the Catholic prelates and parsons into prison where many, worn out by long languishing and sorrow, have miserably ended their lives. All these matter and manifest and notorius among all the nations; they are so well proven by the weighty witness of many men that there remains no place for excuse, defence or evasion.

3. We, seeing impieties and crimes multiplied one upon another the persecution of the faithful and afflictions of religion daily growing more severe under the guidance and by the activity of the said Elizabeth -and recognising that her mind is so fixed and set that she has not only despised the pious prayers and admonitions with which Catholic princes have tried to cure and convert her but has not even permitted the nuncios sent to her in this matter by this See to cross into England, are compelled by necessity to take up against her the weapons of juctice, though we cannot forbear to regret that we should be forced to turn, upon one whose ancestors have so well deserved of the Christian community. Therefore, resting upon the authority of Him whose pleasure it was to place us (though unequal to such a burden) upon this supreme justice-seat, we do out of the fullness of our apostolic power declare the foresaid Elizabeth to be a heretic and favourer of heretics, and her adherents in the matters aforesaid to have incurred the sentence of excommunication and to be cut off from the unity of the body of Christ.

4. And moreover (we declare) her to be deprived of her pretended title to the aforesaid crown and of all lordship, dignity and privilege whatsoever.
5. And also (declare) the nobles, subjects and people of the said realm and all others who have in any way sworn oaths to her, to be forever absolved from such an oath and from any duty arising from lordshop. fealty and obedience; and we do, by authority of these presents , so absolve them and so deprive the same Elizabeth of her pretended title to the crown and all other the abovesaid matters. We charge and command all and singular the nobles, subjects, peoples and others afore said that they do not dare obey her orders, mandates and laws. Those who shall act to the contrary we include in the like sentence of excommunication.

6. Because in truth it may prove too difficult to take these presents wheresoever
it shall be necessary, we will that copies made under the hand of a notary public and sealed with the seal of a prelate of the Church or of his court shall have such force and trust in and out of judicial proceedings, in all places among the nations, as these presents would themselves have if they were exhibted or shown.

Given at St. Peter's at Rome, on 27 April 1570 of the Incarnation; in the fifth year of our pontificate.

Pius PP.

C. Anathemas concerning holy images Canon of the Council of Nicaea 787

1. If anyone does not confess that Christ our God can be represented in his humanity, let him be anathema.
2. If anyone does not accept representation in art of evangelical scenes, let him be anathema.
3. If anyone does not salute such representations as standing for the Lord and his saints, let him be anathema.
4. If anyone rejects any written or unwritten tradition of the church, let him be anathema.

D. Excerpts from Vatican I

# Everybody knows that those heresies, condemned by the fathers of Trent, which rejected the divine magisterium of the church and allowed religious questions to be a matter for the judgment of each individual, have gradually collapsed into a multiplicity of sects, either at variance or in agreement with one another; and by this means a good many people have had all faith in Christ destroyed.
# Indeed even the holy Bible itself, which they at one time claimed to be the sole source and judge of the christian faith, is no longer held to be divine, but they begin to assimilate it to the inventions of myth.
# Thereupon there came into being and spread far and wide throughout the world that doctrine of rationalism or naturalism, - utterly opposed to the christian religion, since this is of supernatural origin, - which spares no effort to bring it about that Christ, who alone is our lord and saviour, is shut out from the minds of people and the moral life of nations. Thus they would establish what they call the rule of simple reason or nature. The abandonment and rejection of the christian religion, and the denial of God and his Christ, has plunged the minds of many into the abyss of pantheism, materialism and atheism, and the consequence is that they strive to destroy rational nature itself, to deny any criterion of what is right and just, and to overthrow the very foundations of human society.
# With this impiety spreading in every direction, it has come about, alas, that many even among the children of the catholic church have strayed from the path of genuine piety, and as the truth was gradually diluted in them, their catholic sensibility was weakened. Led away by diverse and strange teachings [4] and confusing

* nature and grace,
* human knowledge and divine faith,

they are found to distort the genuine sense of the dogmas which holy mother church holds and teaches, and to endanger the integrity and genuineness of the faith.
# At the sight of all this, how can the inmost being of the church not suffer anguish? For

* just as God wills all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth , just as Christ came to save what was lost [6] and to gather into one the children of God who were scattered abroad [7] ,
* so the church, appointed by God to be mother and mistress of nations, recognises her obligations to all and is always ready and anxious
o to raise the fallen,
o to steady those who stumble,
o to embrace those who return, and
o to strengthen the good and urge them on to what is better.

Thus she can never cease from witnessing to the truth of God which heals all [8 ] and from declaring it, for she knows that these words were directed to her: My spirit which is upon you, and my words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth from this time forth and for evermore [9] .
# And so we, following in the footsteps of our predecessors, in accordance with our supreme apostolic office, have never left off

* teaching and defending catholic truth and
* condemning erroneous doctrines.

2. On revelation

* 1. If anyone says that
o the one, true God, our creator and lord, cannot be known with certainty
+ from the things that have been made,
+ by the natural light of human reason:
let him be anathema.
* 2. If anyone says that it is
o impossible, or
o not expedient,
o that human beings should be taught by means of divine revelation about
+ God and
+ the worship that should be shown him :
let him be anathema.
* 3. If anyone says that a human being
o cannot be divinely elevated to a
+ knowledge and
+ perfection
which exceeds the natural, but
o of himself can and must reach finally the possession of all
+ truth and
+ goodness
by continual development:
let him be anathema.
* 4. If anyone
o does not receive as sacred and canonical the complete books of sacred scripture with all their parts, as the holy council of Trent listed them, or
o denies that they were divinely inspired :
let him be anathema.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Contraception embraced, when God's Word is ignored

When the sexual act is embraced as God has given it to us, we embrace the child Jesus, and his incarnation.

When we see the rising promotion of contraception among "Christians", we ultimately see the abandonment of God's Word. It is no secret that before the 1930's almost every Protestant church rejected the use of contraception. After the Lamebeth conference, that all began to change. Since the 30s, almost every Protestant group has embraced the evil promotion of contraception, and ultimately helped fuel the fire for the legalization of abortion.

When God's Word is ignored and substituted for man-made doctrines this is what we can expect to happen. The world will have its way, and God's Word will be substituted for another false word, that of Satan. The rejection of the gift of life from the sexual act is ultimately the rejection of the Christ child. The Devil loves nothing other than to attack the purity and beauty of the sexual act, and turn it into a lustful act, void of the unitive and pro-creative ends.

It is very easy to see the connection of contraception to the act of abortion. Even though many Protestants say they oppose abortion, their action speaks otherwise. Ultimately the use and promotion of "responsible" child bearing, has lead to the slaughter of millions of innocent children. Not only is contraception a backdrop to abortion, but many contraceptives actually cause abortions.

It is interesting that we see the Catholic Church once again standing up and preaching God's Word in 1930, when the Protestants began teaching another doctrine of men.

On August 15: At the world assembly of Anglican bishops, known as the Lambeth Conference, a resolution is passed favoring limited acceptance of birth control. This resolution is a watershed for the Protestant Church. this was followed by God condemning their practice in Dec of the same year. On December 31: The Roman Catholic Church makes a definitive statement on the use of birth control. Pope Pius XI issues an encyclical titled Casti Canubi (Of Chaste Marriage). He rightfully calls birth control a sin, holding the constant teaching of the Church. Pope Pius XI, in the encyclical, proclaimed: "Our mouth proclaims anew: any use of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in it's natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of grave sin."

Although this teaching was addressed specifically in 1930 by the Church, this topic was addressed before by several bishops conferences. The Belgian, French and German bishops also spoke against it earlier.

Contraception is "a vice against nature and a sin crying to Heaven" (Belgian bishops, June 2, 1909).

Contraception is a "serious sin, a very serious sin, with whatever means and whatever way it occurs" (German bishops, Aug. 20, 1913).

"The theories and practices which teach or encourage the restriction of birth are as disastrous as they are criminal" (French bishops, May 17, 1919).

In 1936 Margaret Sanger won a court case allowing the shipment of diaphragms to doctors in the US. In the 1950's an estimated $200 million a year was spent on contraceptives. By 1963 2.3 American women were on the "pill". It was only a matter of time before abortion would be the Devil's next battleground. The Devil knew that if life could be snuffed out in the womb at a very early age without any sense of sin, then pushing his agenda further would not be hard to do. When the sexual act becomes separated from the unitive and the pro-creative ends, then sin becomes the focus of the sexual act, and not God. By 1973 the number on the pill would be over 10 million.

One of the methods that the "pill" prevents pregnancies is that it makes the wall of the uterus hostile to the implantation of the 1 week old embryo, causing an abortion. The use of Intrauterine devices(IUD) also cause abortions. "Throughout the world, an estimated 250 million abortions are caused by the IUD and pill each year" (Faith and Facts, Emmaus Road Publishing, 1999, p.114).

The Protestants have followed this contraceptive mentality, hook, line and sinker. Many claim that this issue is not a moral issue, yet we can see that this is simply not true. This is just another example of what happens when you abandon God's Word for the world's. The world talks about responsible child bearing, and promotes a false population control mentality. Sadly, although the Catholic Church has unwaveringly preached the Truth of God's Word, many "Catholics" have started using birth control not realizing they are potentially separating themselves from the Church, and God's Grace.

Many promoters of contraception admit that the pro-contraceptive mentality would only increase the number of abortions as well.

"As people turn to contraception, there will be a rise, not a fall, in the abortion rate."
—Abortionist Malcolm Potts, 1976
"There is overwhelming evidence that, contrary to what you might expect, the provision of contraception leads to an increase in the abortion rate."
—Abortionist Judith Bury, 1981

Pope John Paul II also realized this.
"The close connection which exists, in mentality, between the practice of contraception and that of abortion is becoming increasingly obvious."
—Pope John Paul II, 1995

We can see that this denial of the proper use of the sexual act, and a rejection of the gift of life from God, resulted in a promotion of the culture of death like night follows the day. The Protestant promotion of contraception went hand in hand with the promotion of lust, the promotion of the degradation of human life, and unwittingly ended up being in the same league with Planned Parenthood, and the death peddlers of our age. Where is the fullness of God's Word being proclaimed in full opposition to the attitudes of the world? Once again, God's one true Church, the Catholic Church.

We will close with a quote from Blessed Mother Teresa.

"That same selfishness that wants to prevent the child by contraception will grow until it wants to kill the child already conceived."
—Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Death Cookie, Chick, send in the clowns...

I am amazed to see these Jack Chick tracts floating around, put in the pages of Catholic books. It never dawned on me that anyone can be dull enough, or brainwashed enough, to actually read them and believe what they say. One in which a friend of mine showed me a few years ago always struck me as well, demonic. It is a little tract called the death cookie. It is really something of fantasy conjured up by an unsound mind, and maybe even a possessed one. You can view it here

My first thought about this whole thing is that he doesn't document much, and actually adds in his own fabrications. He comes up with this fictional story where the devil talks this old man into coming up with a trick to lead away God's people, which later becomes the Pope. Chick claims that the Catholics will trick them by magic. He also claims the Catholic church would keep the Scriptures from the people to keep them from knowing the truth. Now all of this doesn't even match the poor research and scholarship of Dan Brown in his Da-Vinci Code. This is nothing short of pure historical and theological idiocy. Sorry for the directness here, but sometimes direct assault requires direct defense. Did the Catholic Church keep the Sacred Scriptures from the people? The Catholic Church has always read from the Sacred Scriptures in her Divine Liturgy. The Catholic Church was instrumental in translating the Scriptures into other languages as well. Of course before the printing press it was impossible for everyone to have their own copy anyways. the cost and time to copy them was far more than the average person could afford, so the Church would be the primary vehicle for the Sacred Scriptures.

I wanted to point out also a Satanic action that this publisher puts in this tract. If you read down where they quote from the Council of Trent he adds in his own words to the text to try and fool the reader. Who is the deceiver in all of this trickery? He adds to the text (Wafer God) then adds after the anathema, (Which often resulted in torture and death). This is really something that nauseates me to the very core. Once again he gives no examples. I also find the Egyptian caricatures of the priest holding up the wafer like a priest in the Latin Rite Liturgy absurd. I could go on ad nauseum with this foolish cartoon. The final comical part I want to address is the the guy reading the Scriptures where it says, "Jesus says when you eat this bread and drink of this cup, do this in remembrance of me." He uses this like no one had ever discovered this text until the reformers came along. What a joke. Obviously this stuff is of the lowest of gutter trash of the apologetics world. I will steal a phrase that Fr Casey often uses, "the Devil must jump for joy when he sees such foolishness". Has anyone ever debated this Jack Chick in public? Has anyone ever challenged the man to put up some real arguments? I would be interested to know if anyone has seen him debate publicly, or if he just hides behind his cartoons.

Saturday, June 7, 2008


I am an avid lover of the Divine Liturgy, since this is how Our Lord brings Himself to us in a most unique and substantial form. The ancient Syrian Jacobite Liturgy of Dionysius is full of theology, as all of the ancient liturgies are. If I have said it once, I've said it a million times, to dwell in the ancient Divine Liturgies of the Church is to cease to be Protestant. I believe if anyone were to read through all of these Liturgical texts, one would not continue to dwell outside the Church. Here is another example. I have put forth a part of the text here that has an immense amount of Catholic theology within it. The priesthood, the invocation of the Holy Spirit, the substance change of the elements, and the apostolic authority of the Church are just a few theological ideals presented in the text of this Liturgy.

Dionysius the Areopagite, Works (1897) p.187-201. The Liturgy

Raising his voice) Who being conceived, formed and configured by the Holy Spirit, and from virgin blood of the Virgin Mary, holy genitrix of God, was born indeed Man, and from the pure and most holy body of the same, and receiving Deity in Flesh, whilst the law and properties of nature were preserved, but in a manner beyond nature, and was acknowledged God in the Spirit, and Man in the flesh; and inasmuch as the Word existed before the ages, from Thee, as was worthy of God, was born, and by power and miracles, such as became the Maker of all, was testified that He was such, from the very fact that He has freely imparted a complete healing and a perfect salvation to the whole human race. Likewise, in the end and consummation of His dispensation on our behalf, and before His saving Cross, He took bread into His pure and holy hands, and looked to Thee, O God the Father; giving thanks, He blessed, sanctified, brake and gave to His disciples, the holy Apostles, saying, "Take and eat from it and |192 believe that it is my body, that same, which for you and for many is broken and given, for the expiation of faults, the remission of sins, and eternal life." P. "Amen." Pr. "Likewise, in the same manner, over the cup also, which He mingled with wine and water, He gave thanks, blessed, sanctified, and gave to the same disciples and holy apostles, saying, ' Take, drink from it, all of you, and believe that this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed and given for you and for many, for the expiation of faults, remission of sins, and eternal life.' "P. "Amen."

P. "Have mercy." Pr. "We also." D. "How tremendous is this hour." (The Priest bending, says the prayer of the invocation of the Holy Spirit.) Pr. "I invoke Thee, O God the Father, have mercy upon us, and wash away, through Thy grace, the uncleanness of my evil deeds; destroy, through Thy mercy, what I have done, worthy of wrath; for I do not extend my hands to Thee with presumption, for I am not able even to look to heaven on account of the multitude of my iniquities and the filth of my wickedness. But, strengthening my mind, in Thy loving-kindness, grace and long-suffering, I crave Thy holy Spirit, that Thou wouldst send |194 Him upon me, and upon these oblations, here set forth, and upon Thy faithful people." Pr. "Hear me, O Lord." P. "Kyrie eleison," three times. Pr. "Through His alighting upon them, and His overshadowing, may He make this bread indeed, living body, and procuring life to our souls; body salutary----body celestial----body saving our souls and bodies----body of our Lord God and Saviour, Jesus Christ----for remission of sins, and eternal life, for those receiving it." P. "Amen." Pr. "And the commixture, which is in this cup, may He make living blood, and procuring life to all our souls; blood salutary----blood celestial----blood saving our souls and bodies----blood of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ, for remission of sins to those receiving them." P. "Amen." Pr. "Further, according to the tradition, and Divine recommendation of those, who were eye witnesses of Thy mysteries, and interpreters of Thy wonderful acts, we offer this Eucharist before Thee, O Lord, and through it we commemorate Thy charity towards us,- and the universal dispensation of Thine Only-begotten One, in this world, that Thou wouldst also be reminded through it of Thy mercy, cognate and natural to Thee, which, at all hours, is shed upon Thy creatures, and wouldst snatch us from the wrath, reserved for the wicked; and from the punishments of those who work iniquity; and from the cruel attack of demons, who attack our souls, when we shall go hence; and wouldst make us worthy of Thy kingdom, and the habitations of those who have kept Thy precepts; |195 and we will render to Thee, glory and the giving of thanks, &c." P. "Amen." Pr. (bending) "By Thy words, that cannot lie, and by Thy most true teachings, Thou hast said, O Lord, that great is the joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth. Rejoice then now, O Lord, in the conversion of Thy servants, who stand here before Thee; add also, exultation over us, to the souls of the pious and just Fathers ---- Patriarchs ---- Prophets ---- Apostles ----Preachers ---- Evangelists ---- Martyrs ---- Confessors ----Zealots" of Divine Worship----Benefactors----Givers of Alms----of those who minister to the necessities of the poor----and from all, may there be one act of praise to-day,, before Thee, at this holy Altar, and in the heavenly Jerusalem." (Elevating his voice) "And on account of these, and other things of the same kind, may Thy holy Church, which is from one end of the earth to the other, be established, and preserved in tranquillity and peace, in doctrines evangelical and apostolical, by Divine Hierarchs, rightly dispensing the word of truth, and instructing, by the dogmas of true religion: through holy Priests, who embrace the word of life, and carry themselves illustriously in dispensing Thy celestial mysteries: through Deacons, who are modest, and perform the pure and royal ministry without flaw, through true, faithful ones, who occupy themselves in words and acts worthy of a Christian; through choirs of virgins of each sex, bearing about in their members the life-giving mortification of Thy Only-begotten Son.

Complete text here.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Saint Nektarios and Tradition.

Saint Nektarios (1846-1920) is a great Saint of the Orthodox Church. His biography and writings are of great wealth. This small passage from one of his writings deals with the Church, its authority, and Sacred Tradition.

TRADITION Compiled by Father Demetrios Serfes

Sacred TRADITION is the very CHURCH; without the Sacred TRADITION the CHURCH does not exist. Those who deny the Sacred TRADITON deny the Church and the preaching of the Apostles.
Before the writing of the Holy Scriptures, that is, of the sacred texts of the Gospels, the Acts and the Epistles of the Apostles, and before they were spread to the churches of the world, the CHURCH was based on Sacred Tradition....The holy texts are in relation to Sacred Tradition what the part is to the whole.

The CHURCH Fathers regard Sacred Tradition as the safe guide in the interpretation of Holy Scripture and absolutely necessary for understanding the truths contained in the Holy Scripture.

The CHURCH received many traditions from the Apostles... The constitution of the church services, especially of the Divine Liturgy, the holy Mysteria themselves and the manner of performing them, certain prayers and other institutions of the Church go back to the Sacred Tradition of the Apostles.

In their conferences, the Holy Synods draw not only from Holy Scriptures, but also from Sacred Tradition as from a pure fount. Thus, the Seventh Ecumenical Synod says in the 8th Decree: "If one violates any part of the CHURCH Tradition, either written or unwritten, let him be anathema."